It happened again. All it took was one instance of accidentally dropping papers all over the floor, and your coworker goes off on an angry rant yelling at you for your "incompetence" and "how you'll never make it anywhere in this industry" and that "you should quit now rather than be fired later". Never mind that your coworker is the one who knocked the papers out of your hand. Ignore the fact that all the other times before you never once gave your coworker any real trouble, yet they continue to treat you as though you are the worst employee ever.
Or perhaps your coworker is more the type to be passive aggressive and gossip about you to other workers. Perhaps they steal credit for your hard work, or give you the cold shoulder all the time when you are trying to make peace with them. Whatever the case, you know that they have a problem and it is making your work days more difficult.
Sound like a familiar story? This is typically the case with narcissistic coworkers; male or female, the narcissistic coworker seeks out those they perceive as weaker than themselves, and proceed to make their working life a living nightmare. It is basically like being back on the school playground and dealing with bullies. They target the quiet, the weak, the meek and play on their moral, spiritual, and emotional heartstrings to get what they desire. Usually this is to make the narcissist in question look better while their target look worse. This is, of course, old news; countless articles have been written on the subject of narcissism in the workplace, in the home, at church, at school, and in politics.
The real question is what does a person who is being actively or passively targeted by a narcissist do in such scenarios? How do they stand their ground as the narcissist berates them at the drop of a hat or an armful of papers? What can be done when a narcissist goes behind your back and steals credit for your hard work?
There are a few simple and effective methods for dealing with these sorts of people in the workplace. Bear in mind that there are different types of narcissists out there with different methodologies about getting under your skin. The tips listed here are broad and meant to work on a general level with narcissists in an office setting.
Keep Doing the Right Thing in Your Workplace
This may be difficult to swallow, but often the best thing to do when dealing with a narcissist's behavior is to continue doing good in the workplace. Be helpful. Be kind. Do your work to the best of your ability. Be a friendly face even to the narcissistic boss. Having a good reputation in the workplace automatically makes it more difficult for the narcissist to say believable things against you. If people in the workplace see that you are an ideal worker and are nothing like the rumors being spread behind your back, the narcissist loses power and control over you and the office. Do everything to the best of your ability, and do not treat yourself as the narcissist treats you.
It is important to note that you are not to work yourself into a fit of anxiety or depression over the little mistakes you may make along the way. You simply do your personal best, and keep a good attitude. Whatever you do, do not become a narcissist towards yourself!
Keep Track of the Narcissist's Behavior and Attitudes Towards You in a Notebook
Keep an accurate record of all things spoken against you or behaviors exhibited towards you so that you have proof of what's going on. This will greatly help your argument should you take what is being done to you to the authorities. This also keeps the bully at bay with the threat of taking the situation to the authorities.
Do Not Engage in an All-Out Fight
As difficult as this may sound, it is often for the best to not engage in shouting matches or fist fights or even passive aggression with a narcissist. This mainly goes along with the first point, as to exhibit and/or mirror the narcissist's behavior back at them tends to backfire and make you look bad. And they will take that backfiring and run with it! You won't hear the end of it in most cases. I know, I know; it is incredibly tempting to knock their block off when they get like this, as though in doing so you will make it absolutely clear you are not to be trifled with. However, this will ruin your hard work at a good reputation, which is a much stronger argument than any punch, kick, or shouting match. Keep a cool head; this is better!
Dealing with narcissists in the workplace is no easy task, but these three methods should help you win the fight in an honorable fashion.
Would you like more help dealing with narcissists in your workplace? Contact me and I can help.